ATVs look like a lot of fun to operate, and they can be quite enjoyable to ride on in rough terrain, as long as proper caution is used. However, these fun machines on wheels have also earned a reputation for being extremely dangerous, and the statistics bear this out.

For instance, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that about 150,000 people end up in emergency rooms across the country every year due to ATV accidents. That’s a huge amount, especially considering how few ATVs are actually bought and sold every year (fewer than 800,000).

What’s worse, many of the injuries sustained while riding ATVs are traumatic, with deaths nearing 1,000 every year. Other serious injuries include traumatic brain injuries, concussions, spinal cord injuries, and neck, chest and abdomen injuries.

Many of these accidents and injuries occur when riders who do not have a lot of experience take ATVs into areas where they can easily tip and roll. It should not be forgotten that many ATVs are used at low speeds over flat terrain for work, as farmers track livestock, haul supplies and tour their properties. For these users, ATVs have been quite practical and few accidents occur.

However, when teens and young adults get in the seat of an ATV and go off-road, accidents occur at a fairly high rate. The accident rate among younger drivers is far higher than for adults older than their mid-20s. The most common types of accidents when young drivers take ATVs over rugged terrain are rollovers and flips. Obviously, in an ATV, there is no protection for the driver or rider when the vehicle flips, which is why injuries are almost certain when the ATV’s tires lose contact with the ground. Another common ATV accident is when the vehicle actually lands on the driver and s/he is pinned to the ground.

ATVs can be a lot of fun, but they are not meant to carry passengers behind the driver, and they lack the stability of other vehicles and are not intended for use on paved roads. Strict laws govern the manufacture and sale of ATVs, and if you have been injured in an ATV accident, you might be entitled to legal compensation for your medical costs and other damages.

Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer and find out if you have grounds for legal action. Injuries suffered in ATV accidents are usually major ones, and many of them do not show up until several days after the accident. That’s when concussions begin to become apparent and sprained backs begin to hurt more.

A good ATV accident lawyer can help you to determine if you have a case and thus might be eligible for compensation to include past and future medical costs (which could include lengthy rehab sessions), lost work wages due to injury, and even pain and suffering. In the case of the death of a loved one due to an ATV accident, you can win damages against the manufacturer and/or seller of the ATV if the case’s circumstances warrant it. Extensive compensation has also been won for certain riders who require lifelong therapy to cope with their injuries after an ATV accident.

In the meantime, follow these important safety tips to minimize your risk when riding an ATV:

• ALWAYS wear a helmet, and make sure that the helmet is of high quality. Lawsuits have been brought against certain helmet manufacturers.

• Wear appropriate footwear when driving an ATV, not flip-flops or sandals, even if you are going out for an “easy” ride.

• Wear other protective gear, especially if you are going off-road.

• Don’t take passengers along on your ATV—one ATV per person.

• Check the owner’s manual for advice about certain terrains that the ATV will not operate well on, and avoid these areas. You also should have a knowledge of state and local laws regarding the usage of ATVs and where they can be driven.

• NEVER allow young children to drive an ATV.

• It’s a good idea to have a practice ride over a small, flat area for new drivers of ATVs. They handle quite differently than cars or motorcycles.

• Take a communications device with you when you ride an ATV, just in case something happens.

There’s something about an ATV that almost begs the driver to take it to the roughest terrain possible. But just because these little vehicles look like non-stop fun does not mean that you should throw caution to the wind. In fact, you should be more careful when driving an ATV because there is so little protection for the driver if something goes awry.

Sometimes, even after following all of the tips above and being as careful as possible, drivers have ATV accidents. You need to know that some of those accidents are due to more than driver error. The seller or manufacturer of the ATV may be at some fault, so don’t hesitate to contact an ATV accident lawyer to find out if you can get help with your medical and other costs. Call our offices at 215 735 4800 today.

Updated December 5, 2013 by Joel Kofsky

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